Cancel culture has entered a dangerous new phase. But there is a key to getting out: ”forgiveness,” says cancel culture observer Jennifer Graham.
Some experts who have already weighed in on the dangers of un-moderated and un-factchecked cancel culture: Fred Luskin, Marianne Jennings, Jonah Bromwich, Nathaniel Wade.
What is cancel culture? In essence, it is crowd-sourced punishment and it’s not a pretty picture when it goes overboard. As it often does. To cancel someone on Twitter and social media means to stop giving her or him attention for their career or work because of something they said or did. Once the punishment starts, it doesn’t end.
Cancel culture seeks to censor and punish people whose actions and statements have offended others, whether or not the offense was intended or not.
According to Bromwich, cancel culture is a new development on power works on social media. It’s a form of public shaming. But what is often missing in cancel culture is a keystone virtue in the major religious traditions of our time: forgiveness. In other words, for many people involved with cancelling others, there can be no forgiveness. Ever.
In other words, cancel culture in 2020 seeks not to fix things but to destroy people, according to observers watching the culture evolve into crowd-sourced punishment. What happens is that angry people get stuck in “an online aggrieved mob.”
Ask Fred Luskin at the Stanford Forgiveness Project. Ask Jonah Bromwich at The New York Times. Ask Marianne Jennings at Arizona State University.
Bromwich was among the first people to explore the subject and believes that instead of being a passing social media fad, cancel culture is “a new development in how power works.” That power is available to anyone with a Twitter account. And a busy subsidiary of cancel culture is ”public shaming.” Printing names and screen shots of private emails used without permission.
But what’s often missing in cancel culture is a keystone virtue in all the major religious traditions: forgiveness. The importance of forgiveness is even articulated in America’s most powerful document, the U.S. Constitution, which authorizes the president to grant pardons, according to Angela Sailor, a vice president at the Heritage Foundation, who says: “Cancel culture is a direct assault on the construct of forgiveness. It seeks not to fix, but to destroy.”
So where are we headed with cancel culture? Sadly, with social media being what is and with aggrieved people wanting revenge and punishment against those they ”deem” reprehensible and horrible human beings, even if the charges against them consist of lies and false narratives that have never been corrected, cancel culture — a cancer in our culture now — won’t stop until the aggrieved get their pound of flesh.
It’s the way social media works now.